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Sleep Surgeon Question 12

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Question 12 - Is it possible that CPAP simply doesn’t work for some OSA sufferers?

From: V. L.

I’m hoping that you can answer my question. I have sleep apnea and have been using CPAP for seven years now. For the most part CPAP appeared to work to some degree but I would still wake up with sleep apnea symptoms, headache, sleeplessness, and ear aches much like an internal drip.

I have lost weight, I’m 6 feet 175lbs, zero fat, and my morning headaches and overall sleep apnea symptoms haven’t gotten any better, with and without CPAP. I have to admit, I am so messed up I don’t know any more what constitutes good sleep and/or feeling normal.

I finally stopped using CPAP after realizing that it appears to make things worse, not that I’m much better without it. I just had a sleep test, without CPAP and still had apneas when I was sleeping on my back. At home I sleep with a fanny pack loaded with tennis balls so that I don’t sleep on my back and continue to snore and wake up with a headache struggling to get out of bed.

I have had every test imaginable establishing that I don’t have any other medical issues. I’ve seen three ENT docs that don’t see anything out of the ordinary.

My question, is it possible that CPAP simply doesn’t work for some OSA sufferers and if in fact it may actually make things worse and/or it stops working after awhile? I had no problems with wearing a full face mask and using CPAP, I only wise that it worked. My next move is to try a dental device and if this doesn’t work will consider surgery.


Answer Provided by Dr. Kasey Li
July 19, 2007

Although most people believe that if a patient uses CPAP and able to tolerate it, there will be benefits. However, it is not always true.

In my experience, many patients use CPAP but continue to suffer from OSA and many of the symptoms. It does seem that you are suffering from OSA and the next step is oral appliance. Just because CPAP does not help doesn’t mean that other treatment won’t work either.

Good luck




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